lish (lishd) wrote,

philippines trip, october 2013

a lot has changed since i last posted, precipitated by this trip. the next post may have a quick rundown. due to where i've been emotionally for the last two or three months, i haven't wanted to think about the trip long enough to edit down any of the travellogue or photos. i'm finally back in a better place, so i'm just going to post my notes as they are, & you can take them as you like. you're welcome to ask questions, provided they're related to the notes, & i'll expound from there. i've slotted in photos where reasonable. (there aren't many since this was, in fact, a work trip.)

two weeks in the philippines

3 shots for hep a, tdap, & flu, & an oral typhoid. i have to eat live typhoid 4 times.

coach for the hour jump up to vancouver, but a business class flight for 14h to & from manila.

Logged Work Hours: You log your time from the moment you leave your house to the time you hit the hotel door as working time.
$45/day per diem at a 41:1 exchange rate
this is going to rule. :D = sm city north EDSA in quezon city has over 1100 shops & 400 dining establishments. it's 5.435 million square feet of shopping. i could lose joe for an entire week in here & i will probably be bored by noon.

[12:24] <gorthok> you may windup STAYING IN MILAN
joe keeps getting it hilariously wrong. MANILA != MILAN
could've seen EITS but it's a weeknight when i work

horrible zoo, cockfights. not going there

sunday night 10-20 in the states

- i painted joe's nails so he could watch them flake off as i draw nearer

breezed through security & ended up with two hours to wait
out onto the freezing tarmac for a prop plane
sat next to sniffles the zeroth patient but got to move when 21 people missed the flight
waited outside in 30 degrees with just a thin coat to get my bag, & missed my warm thok terribly.

monday 10-21 in the states

boarded first, through the VIP gate, to the shock of everyone waiting with me. mabuhay (business) class ended up with just me & one other dude sitting at opposite sides of the plane, & the oh-so many cattle behind us. MUAHAHA.

hot lemony towel with a half cup of mango smoothie

they actually served an amuse bouche - a single piece of seared ahi tuna, wasabi aioli, & some tiny cubed zucchini & mushrooms. i had a mango juice with it
proscuitto & grilled king oyster mushroom with red pepper tapenade & chive oil with black pepper
seedy rolls, & the flight attendant made me take a couple pieces of olive bread too
rellenong sugpo with steamed rice, also broccoli & mushrooms. this was a couple of large prawns, breaded & lightly fried, with a sweet pineapple sauce. YUM.
(go with the [F] designations for Filipino - fuck the Western choices.
belgian chocolate cream & aged edam with camembert

arroz caldo - signature ginger-flavored rice porridge with chicken
garnished with salted egg, fried garlic, spring onions & lime. served with caramelized baby anchovies & chinese pickles.
really good mid-flight snack

able to log onto free 15min of airplane wifi, but it's $5/30min after that. the map makes me think dirty things, with names like kunming, butuan, pusan, bangkok, & my favorite: Fukuoka. FUCK YOU OKAY? awesome.

cranberry juice
small croissant
pork-ribs adobo with rice, roasted mushrooms & tomato, & scrambled egg.
the egg is ...weird & not good, but the adobo is tender & awesome & full of sliced garlic.
mint tea

it didn't register how close the philippines is to australia until i saw it on the airplane map. too bad i can't extend the trip a week & hop over to oz. wouldn't be any fun without joe, though.

i said 10minu as i flew by okinawa (work joke)

great shots of the sunrise

ninoy aquino airport
told "i like your pierce", indicating my nose, by customs

- insane driving in .ph, no one stays in their lane & no one cares

seda hotel
multiple friendly people asking about my bodyart
toilets here are like in china, same two buttons
just like in china, you can't drink the water, & the hotel here also provides two bottles of water per day for drinking & toothbrushing & such

sleep until 730, thought it was 930 because +15 turned into +17 in my tired brain

tuesday 10-22 in the states

- 1874.25php per diem
call center, starbucks has raspberry & black currant fruit juice
- everyone in the philippines seems to have a cough. no one in the philippines washes their hands after using public toilets. i ponder whether these things are related.
picadillo for lunch, milkfish
then breakfast for dinner at sentro: smoked milkfish, garlic rice, fried egg. "tinapang bonuan bangus"
they were all surprised fish head didn't bother me. i said fish heads are fine, mcdonalds is what scares me
most amazing hot cocoa! cacao tablea by davao. BEST EVER. note re price of chocolate bars vs THIS??? why is this cheap but a chocolate bar is insane

they all CONSTANTLY say mum/ma'am. everyone. i hate it

wednesday 10-23 in the states
sushi leftovers
room service - mango smoothie, grilled veggie wrap

thursday 10-24 in the states

- shrimp & escargot salad with extra steamed veggies
- green mango smoothie, omg so good. they used an unripe ataulfo & it was tangy & awesome
lunch - menudo. pork with peas, carrot, liver & heart
- dude at the call center with dreads
- boat tart - peanut & almond toffee treat thing shaped like a boat, yum

maldita = local store, but the name means bitch
toyota dealership signs say "low DP offer". i smirk
bank - sign before you enter, "deposit your firearms"
national bookstore has no books

made tattoo appointment at morbid tattoos in the cash & carry mall. the guy sounded super depressed on the phone & like no fun at all, but the work's clean (both stylistically & they boast autoclaves) & the shop is only about 6km away. i set up a car to take me at 10am & pickup at noon.

maharin fish at breakfast buffet, maybe mojarra? ate with the bones, yum, tasted kind of like canned salmon
red hash like stuff (filipino corned beef)
purple muffin things, slightly cinnamony
small purple rice cake with brown crumbs on top (putop bumbong)
sweet cakey thing, also with purple layers
best guava juice ever

friday 10-25 in the states

noticed 1350kg/20 people max on the elevator. this translates to 2976.25
pounds - which means they expect an average person to weigh about 150lb.
this is not how it is in the states.

ped crossings try to kill you. i get a lot of horn beeps

stopped at sentro to get dinner:
- kare-kare: "quintessential filipino stew of peanut, oxtail, oxfeet, and tripe". stew was oily, underflavored, & unpleasant. a big disappointment for $18 us. i plan on that amazing hot chocolate again before i leave though.
- lychee smoothie great though. she used canned lychees, & i watched her open the can with a giant kitchen knife
- cold corned beef, mogu mogu mango juice was REALLY good, with nata de coco in it.
- an agent brought me humbao :D delicious sauce omg

breakfast buffet - glass noodles with some sort of animal liver, tasty. fish sausage patties? winter melon, papaya, mango juice... & oddest yet, on the "western" portion of the buffet was something i couldn't identify that looked like fish skin chips. squares about the size of sunchips. i took one, & yep, it's exactly what it looks like. it's also gross. :)

there's a seattle's best on the way to work, then 4 bakeries in a row & a mcdonalds. wtf

- went for tattoo after work
TINY adorable shop
autoclaved items, but crosscontam like touching the lamp, one pair of gloves used, one stick of deodorant for the transfer (this is an oldschool method folks)
he thought my thigh stars are white ink; i corrected him & showed him my hawk. he called me "hardcore".
kept saying he'll see me soon & i should come back in, haha. i said i'd send my friends.
they call cover-ups "tattoo reconstructions".
we discussed how a tattoo shop in a mall in the US would be terrible, but he's quite good

bought joe presents while waiting (filipino tiger balm, filipino purple cats notepad [yes, he'll love it] & a silver gel pen to go with it because he's really a 13yo goth girl at heart, a filipino redbull (continuing the trend since china) & another weird "panther" energy drink, plus i scored a filipino dime - 10 centavos because we have a thing about dimes
wanted to get him some horrible looking blood movie about an asian vampire & a d&d movie IN WIDESCREEN for like $2 US but it was all region 3
the mall has a cinema proclaiming things are an experince in 2D! i think of aidan's dislike for all 3D movies.

lychee drink like the mango one
random snacks
there are a ton of whitening deodorants & such here

so many stares at the mall. sigh. at least people spoke to me though.

saturday 10-26 in the states

[09:02] > no one will feed me :( :( :( :(
[09:03] > i wasn't hungry until an hour ago & i started trying to find delivery
& it took 40 minutes to translate everything & then they wouldn't take the
order even though it said they're open for 20 more minutes so i hung up &
callde room service which i thought was 24/7 but they closed at 11 :( :( :(
[09:03] > so now i have to wait until 6am for food :( :( :(
[09:03] > i have a couple nut bars in my bag but i am so sad
[09:04] > sad & hungry girlfriend, alone in the philippines

breakfast at the hotel
century egg! creamy & far more mild than it looks. milkfish belly, linguine aglio olio with sun dried tomato
very tender curried beef & carrots
squishy sticky white mochi like thing
great banana bread
tiny black currant & custard danish

then the mind museum. they're clever:
# Is there a dress code? The simple answer is as long as you are wearing clothes, we shall welcome you without thinking something must have gone horribly wrong while you were planning your trip. But if you are thinking of wearing extremes like long gowns and swimsuits, we shall also suspect that, as the play goes, something funny must have happened on your way to the museum.

800PHP, about 19 bucks

passed a lot of cool arcitecture on the walk there

the museum was cute, but even on a sunday morning packed with buses full of children. yuch. good thing i brought music & tiny headphones; made it much more tolerable. the davinci exhibit was far better, with the largest collection of machines actually made from his drawings. i sat & watched the 50-minute movie on davinci & learned some things.

bought a guyabano smoothie on the way out. i've eaten cherimoya in the states, & it's the same fruit, but this was much more delicious than the overpriced & slightly overripe thing i got at whole foods. i'm really digging philippine smoothies - they're just fruit, ice, a quarter cup of agave nectar, & a splash of evaporated milk. it kept me nice & cool on the walk back to the hotel.

on the way, i happened up a dr martens store! i went in & talked to the clerk about punk culture. he was suitably impressed by my england-made red/black ruboffs, which i happened to be wearing. my little piece of manila.

sunday 10-27 in the states

ordered dinner an hour earlier & was met with success - though they wouldn't deliver either the calamansi (local lemon) or dalandan (local orange) juices i ordered. i went down to the front desk to exchange cash. the overnight counter lady was the same as last night: she knew i tried to order delivery yesterday, then tried to order room service, & had suggested pizza. she asked if i ever got to eat last night. i told her i had a nut bar in my bag that held me over until breakfast opened, & she made the saddest face at me. WELL I AGREE, IT WAS A VERY SAD HUNGRY LISH INDEED! but i have way too much food coming tonight:

Seafood Bicol Express - prawns, mussels, chunks of some kind of meaty fish, squid. the prawns still had shells on (& heads, of course), which was a bit unwieldy in the sauce, but the green mussels were beautiful & the coconut milk sauce was nicely spiced.
Guinataang Kuhol - snails served in their shells, also unwieldy
Classic Pakbet - veggies steamed with pork & shrimp. okra, green beans, bitter melon, yam, tomato, japanese eggplant. the okra was awesome.

no utensils made the snails REALLY difficult, & they were also sandy, but still pretty tasty.
they send about twice the portions i expect - there were two 6x4x2" takeout containers for each dish. so i took half down to reception to eat or give away. the dude at the counter nearly blushed.


near mall, bought presents for aidan, kyle, & slots, local honey for joe, a bunch of fresh fruits (mangosteen, calamansi, dalandan, atis) a lot of stares, including 180s. :( at least people weren't pulling out cameras. bibingka was great though, very light, & calamansi drink was good though not what i was hoping for (real vs "drink"). light lemon taste, less acidic than our lemons. good

monday 10-28 in the states:

had some very tasty vietnamese mekong

- zao vietnamese bistro
- mekong fish in tomato sauce, jasmine rice
giant catfish - milder than ours. tomato sauce A+, less acidic & sweeter
- freshly squeezed dalandan juice - like a tangier valencia orange juice. served with a separate cup of sugar water? idk
- a rep brought me biko (sticky rice dessert) & homemade pancit (noodles). yum!
- really good atis - tastes like a cherimoya, separated into chunks with huge pips surrounded by fruit, kind of like a pomegranate in design
- mangosteen A+, super soft outside unlike the US one i had to hack into with a saw. so tasty

breakfast had Longanisa (filipine sweet sausage)

tuesday 10-29 in the states

- abe' restaurant
- pork sinigang in sampaloc - "another version of the national dish" good, sour broth. pork belly & ribs
- wanted betute (fresh frogs) but they were out of it
- wanted to try arobung kamaru - rice field crickets in tomato & onion, but i didn't think they'd keep on my desk. maybe before i go.
- leche flan - yep, tasty flan
- didn't order "my mother's rellenong mix" though i wanted to because the menu said "it's a dish i associate with matriarchal tyranny"
- the dalandan is pretty much a tangerine that's green on the outside & seems otherwise fairly normal.
- i thought i bought a calamondin too, but it's not. it's a giant green lemon & i can't identify it. maybe a dayap!

- mango smoothie tonight

breakfast i stopped down to the hotel lobby again
chicken adobo & what i now identify as bibingka squares :)
ate enough to find strength to go to the fruit market again, determined to buy everything i've never seen before. i went immediately to the stand where they'd chosen a great atis for me before, & purchased:
2 mangosteens
a half dozen rambutan, which i'd had in hawaii but was told are better here
a kilo of lansones
one large durian, which they peeled for me & put in plastic.

for the above, it was just 450php, & i tipped her the extra 50php as i didn't expect them to cut up the durian for me!

i couldn't get another atis like i'd wanted, & no one would sell me chico (sapodilla) as they weren't ripe, but i found a marang at the second fruit stand! the first's stand had it, but said theirs wasn't good, & also refused selling it. i really respect that even though i'm totally out of place in the philippines & very obviously a tourist/short term customer, they still only want me to have the best fruit. the marang rang in at 115php, not even three bucks US.

the rambutans are indeed better, but to be fair, joe & i did get that giant bag of rambutan cheap because they were approaching unsellable. i liked the lansones, which are similar to rambutans & lychees - another weird tropical fruit with a sort of husk & a clear fruit on the inside. the taste is slightly different but not remarkably so.

the durian surprised me - i've heard so many horror stories of it, how it smells like rotting garbage & they won't allow them on japanese subways & such... but it just smelled like a regular fruit mixed with a bunch of onions. despite having a firm appearance through the plastic, the texture was utter mush - it's pretty identical to custard. it tasted good, but somewhat oniony even when i tried not to smell it at the same time. overall, of course i'm glad i tried it, but i don't think it's fantastic. i was advised to put it in the freezer to quell the smell, so i stuck it in the minibar (which had notes never to put anything in there, ha! suck it.) to try again later.

i waited to open the marang until later, as i read that it oxidizes quickly.

mark, a filipino dude i work with in the states, had sent me this list of fruits to try, & i'm glad to say i found most of them: Rambutan, durian, lansones, atis, abana, mangosteen, langka (jack fruit), starfuit, Tambis, Sugar Apple, marang

creamy tropical things around seeds: marang, atis, guyabano
clear tropical things with a husk: lychee, rambutan, lansones

the durian was okay, they cut it apart & put it in plastic for me at the market, which was very kind (i tipped nicely X) ) the smell wasn't bad imo, just very oniony
it tasted oniony to me too, places online said it tasted like almonds, but i only really tasted custard, banana, & onion
so i gave it to the guys at the front desk haha
i was all "umm i realize now i probably shouldn't have done this, but i bought a durian" & he made the OH G-D face
& asked if i wanted them to spray my room hahaha
i said it only smelled oniony i thought, & it tasted okay but i wasn't going to finish it & could he give it away so it didn't go to waste
he said he could find someone but he was still giving me that look like "why would you ever buy a durian"
it wasn't bitter at all, it was sweet, but i think the smell of onions was too strong for me to really taste it properly
the texture is crazy though

at work, they said no one in this province eats durian... which doesn't explain why there are tons for sale in the market. or maybe it does, if no one's buying them? o_O

wednesday 10-30 in the states

i scooped out the marang into a shower cap to take to work, only the outside smelled strongly.
had to eat it within a few hours & it was WAY too good to waste, so i ate an entire marang XD
marang is like a juicy banana/canteloupe/sweetness that isn't cloying
only downside is its little strigy bits kept wrapping around my tongue barbells, so i was scraping at my tongue every few bites


grilled prawns, pumpkin orzo, garlic baby asparagus at chelsea restaurant
six giant prawns, delicious

atis was like pear & banana & something
it's also in cancun as saramuyo, so joe will get to try some in december :D so i don't feel so bad that i really can't bring him any marang. mexico should also present some chico (which weren't ripe here) & mamey & zapote negro

given some filipino peanut m&ms called nips. less chocolate, less sugar shell, brighter colors

breakfast at hotel
odd little paper-wrapped powdery bundles of doughy yum, maybe wheat flour?

thursday 10-31 in the states

i slept terribly as some kid in the room above me was playing jacks, & the bouncing ball woke me twice before i called reception & made them send some muscle. it was very satisfying to hear the knocking at their door & the blissful silence, though. but really, who the hell still plays jacks?!

duo restaurant
lapu lapu (grouper) in lemon butter, steamed vegetables & sauteed spinach
debated the chilean seabass, a favorite, but .ph is farther from chile than the US
went back to duo becasue i knew i could get vegetables there. why is it so tough to find veggies aside from rice?

cops with giant automatic weapons walking around

jen said paper is scarce like in china, but i've only had occasion to use toilets at work & the hotel
i will say they don't like to give plastic utensils with takeout, & i often had to ask to avoid having to go to the cafeteria on site

people randomly bust into song in this center

mark had wanted me to try a lot of foods i didn't try, mainly because they're so heavy & i couldn't get them for "breakfast". ditto on the desserts - i couldn't stand to eat sugar within an hour or two of waking up, so if they weren't available at 8am local time, it didn't happen.

i missed all the kids trick or treating. :D :D i'm told i JUST missed them, too. so it's great i didn't have to pretend to give a shit about children.

green mango smoothie today mmmm

no trash cans anywhere, barely any outside or in the mall. maybe one per floor. it makes me feel like i produce a LOT of trash, so i keep taking mine with me at the end of the day.

after friday 11-1 in the states, leave at 3pm PT / 6am PHT saturday 11-2
7am PHT - have hot cocoa at sentro
10am PHT - go through the stores
- buy another marang!
stay up until 4pm PHT saturday, get food, sleep until 12am PHT sun
- eat marang!
11am PHT - leave for airport

took some photos at the office [edited as i don't publicly post my pob]. they had chess pieces & other neat things around from recent contest/fun days that gave me ideas for my home center

jenny & charlotte, leads

i took a video of the walk to work & back tonight (about 10min each way) but it's pretty boring, probably won't post that

breakfast, hot chocolate to go, burned myself horribly when the lid popped off on the way back to the hotel. i dunked my hand into the fountain to save it. got burn cream & an ice pack from reception

breakfast had "grilled" mahi mahi in lemon caper sauce, & some kind of chicken thigh dish, also ensaymada rolls yum. i like how sweets here are small - just a little sugar, a little icing on things like bebingka & the ensaymada.
relaxed in my room with my ice pack on my sad burnt fingers & drank my now cooler hot chocolate. still the best i've ever had.

10h workdays, 140h paycard

friday 11-1 in the states

wee nam kee - "hainanese chicken rice" - food from singapore
no lechon kawali (roasted pork), got barbecued pork (asado) instead

no baby kai lan, got garlic taiwan pechay instead
no chocolate truffle buchi, got lime juice instead
fruit market: no atis (out of season), got 3 mangosteen for 50php

small cats wander the outdoor restaurant seating
kai lan is chinese broccoli/kale. taiwan pechay = bokchoy
almost got kang kong = water spinach - would've been more interesting but oh well
the bokchoy is good, the pork is very mild, the lime juice is tart & lovely like a limeade. i like the hainan steamed rice, it's a nice change from all the jasmine rice here

the room still smells vaguely of durian :)

ripe mango smoothie & tipped the smoothie barisa 10php which made her very happy. she was all "MA'AM, YOUR CHANGE!!!" & when i pointed at her she was like :O. 10php is just barely under a quarter american.

nothing's open until 10-ish, no hours listed on restaurants or anything

a guy at work who i didn't realize was gay told me we'll have "girl time" if i come back. he asked if there are gay people in seattle. i said half the team is gay! he was SHOCKED &... aroused?

went up to the roof to take a pano, couldn't get outside though.

acquired second marang & a golden passionfruit that stumped me for ages

saturday 11-2 in the states

called joe on voip because my comp was down, showered & ate marang. saved the seeds to try to sneak into the states - they can be roasted & eaten like peanuts, & i want to consume as much marang as possible.

breakfast - seafood pancit, steamed fish, beef stew with potatoes & carrots

checked out, got a photo of the cool wire giraffe in the front lobby

"Philippine Air - With Us You're Always No. 1" one? that's a weird slogan

left an hour to get to the airport & 3 before my flight... came in SO early because the filipinos don't give a shit about much security. i went through one metal detector on the way in, got a little felt up, then went through a slightly bigger one where i had to remove my belt but not my shoes or any other metal (bracelets, change, keys) & got a little more significantly felt up by a woman who then kept coming back to feel me up a little more - she couldn't believe my sleeve tattooing or my dreads, & kept asking if they're real. normally i don't let randoms touch me so much, but, well, you don't say no to any form of TSA if you want to make your flight.

being on business class, i was told about the lounge - & considering my treatment on the flight in, i definitely wanted to go right there. so i did (stopping on the way to spend the last of my php on dried mangos), & i found comfy padded seats, lots of free food set up, & - most importantly - the good wifi. also i can actually leave my bag alone for a minute here, since the lounge is guarded, & i don't feel like i'm going to get ripped off. & good thing too, because it only took one hour to get from the hotel to a seat in the mabuhay lounge.

got onto the flight & took some great cloud pics

i thought there was a woman sitting next to me, but apparently she'd been trying to sneak up from coach, because suddenly her bags weren't stowed above me & i didn't see her again.

food on the flight wasn't as good as the way there, but the rellenong bangus was pretty tasty.
one flight attendant asked how long that "you haven't been brushing your hair" & asked if he'd like me to brush it. that would've gone over better had he laughed, but he just came off a bit creepy
another flight attendant on the way out said she wanted to ask about my hair but knows it's REALLY EXPENSIVE to do this. um ok!

philippine air, with whom i'm always no one, didn't check my bag through vancouver, so i had to run all over creation to pick it up & get out through canadian customs & back in through security & US customs

i feel a little like i wasted the trip, since i didn't go many places or do much, but it was a work trip - & i made it to work & did my job every day - on ten hour shifts. the timecard is nearly 140 hours, ergh. but in my defense, it was difficult to do things since i had to wait until daylight hours for safety, & also for things to be open. i was awake from 7:30pm to noon daily, working from 8pm to 6am, but a lot of places didn't open until 10am. that's like going out at 9pm for me at home, when i'm normally winding down to go to bed. *shrug* i'm glad to have my tattoo & a lot of new fruit experiences, & that's all i really expected for myself.

this happened shortly after my return.

Mark's food list: Chicken Adobo Lechon (Roast Pig) Lechon Manok (Roast Chicken) Sisig Crispy pata Chicken Inasal Arroz Caldo Tapsilog - Tapa, Sinigang, Itlog (Must try!) Longanisa Lumpia Balot Fish Kinilaw Pancit
Dessert: Turon Halo-halo Buko Pie Ensaymada Putop Bumbong Leche flan
Fruits to try: Rambutan, durian, lansones, atis, abana, mangosteen, langka (jack fruit), starfuit, Tambis, Sugar Apple, marang


post-trip note: EVERYTHING got "marang'd". the outside of the fruit is incredibly pungent & just stuck to everything. it took a full three months for the smell of marang to completely vacate. i was able to wash it out of cloth immediately, non-washable items were mostly able to be febreezed, but any metal or plastic parts held the smell despite all efforts. it was nearly february before i could sniff at my netbook cables & touch my belt without reactivating the scent on my fingers. utterly delicious fruit; CRAZY stuff growing around it.

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